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Federal forces man a checkpoint in Veracruz. Federal forces man a checkpoint in Veracruz.

Weekend of violence greets new governor

28 people killed in gunfights in southern region of the state

Miguel Ángel Yunes was sworn in as governor of the all but bankrupt state of Veracruz last Thursday, but another initiation followed on the weekend with gun battles that left as many as 28 people dead.

The violence was unleashed on Saturday in the southern municipality of Jesús Carranza, where early reports by locals and police warned of the presence of a group of some 30 heavily armed individuals aboard armored vehicles.

That night, a clash between Army personnel and the yet unidentified criminal group left two dead along with four injured, all allegedly criminals. The rest of the large group fled into the brush.

The Army reported that it had secured eight vehicles — one of them armored — and several weapons.

Since then, the Army has mounted strict checkpoints at all road accesses to Suchilapan del Río, the largest town in the municipality.

A second shootout on Sunday, this time involving police officers and close to 20 individuals, left three dead and resulted in the seizure of AK-47 and R-15 assault rifles.

The most violent confrontation took place yesterday evening, when a state police patrol came under fire. A reinforcement of state police, Navy personnel and municipal police arrived on the scene, where a shootout resulted in 14 suspected criminals being shot dead and one police officer injured.

More rifles and shotguns were seized after the clash, as well as a .50-caliber Barrett M82 semi-automatic sniper rifle.

Given the state of violence, the 2,500 inhabitants of Suchilapan have lived under virtual curfew with municipal authorities asking that schools remain closed, residents stay at home and business owners keep their businesses closed as the risk of being caught in a crossfire between official forces and criminals is high.

Other areas also reported violent but isolated events.

In the municipality of Minatitlán an armed group attacked a bar called La Maracuyá, targeting and killing the 21-year-old owner of the club.

In the nearby municipality of Jáltipan, also in the southern part of the state, an individual was executed at a taco stand in the town’s center.

The municipal authorities of Boca del Río reported finding two corpses showing signs of having been tortured, with a “narco-message” attached.

In the northern municipality of Álamo, two more male individuals were found dead. They, too, showed signs of having been tortured.

The body of a three-day kidnap victim was found by the side of a road in the municipality of Tierra Blanca, while the body of a truck driver was abandoned on the side of a road close to the city of Córdoba.

Finally, 15 kilometers away from the state capital, Xalapa, another shootout was reported, leaving one person injured.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp)

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